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Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists

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"Like Henry David Thoreau, but with Wi-Fi." — Boston Globe What if everything you ever wanted isn't what you actually want? Twenty-something, suit-clad, and upwardly mobile, Joshua Fields Millburn thought he had everything anyone could ever want. Until he didn't anymore. Blindsided by the loss of his mother and his marriage in the same month, Millburn started questioning "Like Henry David Thoreau, but with Wi-Fi." — Boston Globe What if everything you ever wanted isn't what you actually want? Twenty-something, suit-clad, and upwardly mobile, Joshua Fields Millburn thought he had everything anyone could ever want. Until he didn't anymore. Blindsided by the loss of his mother and his marriage in the same month, Millburn started questioning every aspect of the life he had built for himself. Then, he accidentally discovered a lifestyle known as minimalism...and everything started to change. That was four years ago. Since, Millburn, now 32, has embraced simplicity. In the pursuit of looking for something more substantial than compulsory consumption and the broken American Dream, he jettisoned most of his material possessions, paid off loads of crippling debt, and walked away from his six-figure career. So, when everything was gone, what was left? Not a how-to book but a why-to book, Everything That Remains is the touching, surprising story of what happened when one young man decided to let go of everything and begin living more deliberately. Heartrending, uplifting, and deeply personal, this engrossing memoir is peppered with insightful (and often hilarious) interruptions by Ryan Nicodemus, Millburn's best friend of twenty years.


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"Like Henry David Thoreau, but with Wi-Fi." — Boston Globe What if everything you ever wanted isn't what you actually want? Twenty-something, suit-clad, and upwardly mobile, Joshua Fields Millburn thought he had everything anyone could ever want. Until he didn't anymore. Blindsided by the loss of his mother and his marriage in the same month, Millburn started questioning "Like Henry David Thoreau, but with Wi-Fi." — Boston Globe What if everything you ever wanted isn't what you actually want? Twenty-something, suit-clad, and upwardly mobile, Joshua Fields Millburn thought he had everything anyone could ever want. Until he didn't anymore. Blindsided by the loss of his mother and his marriage in the same month, Millburn started questioning every aspect of the life he had built for himself. Then, he accidentally discovered a lifestyle known as minimalism...and everything started to change. That was four years ago. Since, Millburn, now 32, has embraced simplicity. In the pursuit of looking for something more substantial than compulsory consumption and the broken American Dream, he jettisoned most of his material possessions, paid off loads of crippling debt, and walked away from his six-figure career. So, when everything was gone, what was left? Not a how-to book but a why-to book, Everything That Remains is the touching, surprising story of what happened when one young man decided to let go of everything and begin living more deliberately. Heartrending, uplifting, and deeply personal, this engrossing memoir is peppered with insightful (and often hilarious) interruptions by Ryan Nicodemus, Millburn's best friend of twenty years.

30 review for Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists

  1. 5 out of 5

    Irene McHugh

    This book was the single-worst reading experience I've had in a long time. To be clear: my disdain lies with the author and his sidekick smart-aleck friend and not with the message of minimalism. By chance, a friend sent me a link to the Minimalists.com website with a note that these two guys were going to be in Denver in April 2014. I scanned the website, mostly focusing on the interview videos posted there. Since I'm in a place in my life where I'm scaling back the "stuff," I thought I'd give This book was the single-worst reading experience I've had in a long time. To be clear: my disdain lies with the author and his sidekick smart-aleck friend and not with the message of minimalism. By chance, a friend sent me a link to the Minimalists.com website with a note that these two guys were going to be in Denver in April 2014. I scanned the website, mostly focusing on the interview videos posted there. Since I'm in a place in my life where I'm scaling back the "stuff," I thought I'd give their book tour a try. Plus it was a free event. A few days prior to the Denver event, I did get the book from the library. The opening chapters focus on how Millburn's life prior to minimalism was one unhappy event after another, including the death of his mother and his own divorce after six years of marriage. The observations on consumer-driven culture in these chapters are interesting. I agree that it's quite easy to morph into a prone person sitting back, watching television, posting to Facebook, feeding your body and spirit with mindless junk food. So I entered the Oriental Theater with an open mind and a positive outlook. Generally speaking, I like the message about minimalism. They encourage people to re-evaluate the things in our lives and consciously decide what is meaningful. What do I use? What brings me joy? How does this thing add to my life? However, as I watched Millburn and Nicodemus speak, I was twitching slightly. They were performing. They were acting. I had heard all of these words before in the interviews, and in many cases, verbatim. This display was theater. Even when they took audience questions, they would confer amongst themselves (Colin Wright was there that night as well) before answering. The answers were rehearsed, memorized. I decided to finish the book. After all, I like the message so work around the delivery system. Adapt. And that's when I really started not liking the author and his sidekick, who comments in these irritating endnotes that you have to look up separately. God forbid, you create footnotes. In chapter six, Millburn has this bit about anchors. He writes that society views anchored people as well-adjusted. However, he sees them as being kept in line, in place. Anchors steal your freedom by preventing you from achieving your own happiness. At this point in my reading experience, I became incredibly suspicious about the emotional intelligence of the author. He's writing a memoir in his thirties, so he's already garnered the self-absorbed label. However, now he's writing about life as a journey. I've already read Tolkien. My reading pace slows at this point, but when I got to chapter ten, I was truly irritated. Millburn and Nicodemus have moved to a small town in Montana to write and create. They chose to live in Montana. However, based on chapter ten, you might think Millburn was some Roman patrician forced to live amongst the lepers. He's sitting in a "two-bit bar listening to some banjo song pollute the sound waves" around him. Nicodemus is talking to "Whatshername" who Millburn describes as "blotchy with a hand-me-down face." He notices two other girls who are "sporting dull, gold wedding bands with tiny diamonds." Really? You're writing a book criticizing consumer-driven culture, but within that book you criticize wedding/engagement ring quality? Like the size of the diamond is directly proportional to the partner's love? Then he complains that the girl who is sitting next to him is paying him too much attention. He writes, "I've hardly said a word, but she says she finds me 'interesting,' which is a term I would use passive-aggressively, a back-handed insult." Interesting is an insult? What world does Millburn live in? People who are interesting are compelling, thought-provoking, intriguing, impressive, and alluring. My goal is to surround myself with as many interesting people as I can. My conclusion is that Millburn's memoir is not about minimalism. He's really writing about his journey toward emotional intelligence and maturity which minimalism is helping to expedite. To further my point, I saw that the Minimalists had a TedX Talk. It's the exact same presentation I saw in Denver at the Oriental Theater. While they added boxes as props for TedX, the talk was just as stilted, just as insincere as both the presentation I saw and the book I read. If you're looking for a book about minimalism, I would look elsewhere.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    The message of this book is powerful. The writing quality, for me, held back that power a bit. I should admit that I am instantly skeptical (and maybe offended?) by writers who say they are great writers in their own books. It makes me more likely to (mentally) edit the stuffing out of everything I read of theirs after that statement. And this book suffers from being written by someone who is young and thinks he's a great writer: overstuffed prose, awkward metaphors, lack of structure, lack of The message of this book is powerful. The writing quality, for me, held back that power a bit. I should admit that I am instantly skeptical (and maybe offended?) by writers who say they are great writers in their own books. It makes me more likely to (mentally) edit the stuffing out of everything I read of theirs after that statement. And this book suffers from being written by someone who is young and thinks he's a great writer: overstuffed prose, awkward metaphors, lack of structure, lack of context, dialogue which feels manufactured, and lack of humility. I hope I can point these things out from a place of recognition because I suffer from them, am much older than the author, and I practice writing daily and have since I was in junior high school. I'm reluctant to admit my reaction because of how important I feel the author's mission and purpose in writing is. He responds to a hunger so many people feel - and narrates a suggested approach, honed from his own life, that may help many, many people feel a deeper connection to their own lives. And that, ultimately, is more important than the fact that, in my experience, the quality of prose was strained. I'd still recommend this to friends who are curious about what they're doing and why they are doing it and how minimalism might speak to them. We are all searching for answers and we'll all find them in our way. This book may encourage you to take a leap that will open you up as it did for the author. Reading it has encouraged me to think how I might approach such a journey in my own way and time, with a different life and set of responsibilities than the author's.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    We have a love-hate relationship with stuff. We love wanting things -- it can be so satisfying to acquire and collect our treasures! But we also have to store all of that stuff. We have to clean it and organize it and maintain it. Minimalists argue that if we have less stuff, our lives will be richer and happier. We will spend less time cleaning and worrying about our things. We will have more satisfying relationships. We will not have to work as hard or have as much debt because we will be We have a love-hate relationship with stuff. We love wanting things -- it can be so satisfying to acquire and collect our treasures! But we also have to store all of that stuff. We have to clean it and organize it and maintain it. Minimalists argue that if we have less stuff, our lives will be richer and happier. We will spend less time cleaning and worrying about our things. We will have more satisfying relationships. We will not have to work as hard or have as much debt because we will be spending less money. Clearing out everything that is unnecessary will free up room in our lives to be more mindful of ourselves and of others. Joshua Fields Millburn and his friend, Ryan Nicodemus, run a blog called The Minimalists, and this book is a memoir about their journey to simplify their lives. (Minimalism seems to be the trendy new term that was just called Simple Living in the '90s. New century, new term!) Joshua and Ryan both had high-paying jobs in the telecommunications industry. They worked long hours and had a lot of stress. After Joshua's mother died in 2009, he had to clean out her house and was shocked at how much stuff she had collected. His first thought was to box it all up and pay to have it stored somewhere, but then he realized how ridiculous and expensive it would be. So he hunkered down and sorted through all her rooms of stuff, getting rid of everything but a few photographs and mementos.* And then, his marriage ended. In a new apartment, Joshua decided to start paring down his stuff, too. "I started small, asked myself: What if you removed one material possession -- just one -- from your life each day for a month? What would happen? The result: I unloaded way more than thirty items in the first thirty days. Like way, way more. It became a kind of personal challenge, discovering what I could get rid of, what I could get out of my way, how many unneeded things I could remove from my hoard. I searched my rooms and closets, cabinets and hallways, car and office, rummaging around for items to part with, retaining only the things I needed." It took several months, but Joshua whittled down his things to just the necessary items. He got rid of all of the "just in case" things that he had been saving. He digitized his photographs. He digitized his CDs and movies. He cleaned out his closet and kept only his favorite clothes. It was close to an "everything must go" project. He even changed his relationships, and ended up leaving the job that had been making him miserable. "We hold on to jobs we dislike because we believe there's security in a paycheck. We stay in shitty relationships because we think there's security in not being alone. We hold on to stuff we don't need, just in case we might need it down the road in some nonexistent, more secure future. If such accoutrements are flooding our lives with discontent, they are not secure." Ryan became inspired to minimize his things after he saw how much happier Joshua was. Ryan tried a slightly different project: He packed up all of his items in boxes as if he were moving, labeled everything, and stacked them in his living room. Then he spent 21 days unpacking only the items he needed. For example, the first things he unpacked were his toothbrush, his bed sheets, a few dishes, etc. At the end of the 21 days, he had only unpacked about 15 percent of his stuff. He got rid of everything that was still packed in the boxes. WOW. "Imagine living a healthier life, one in which you don't just look better, you feel better. Imagine a life with higher standards. Imagine a life with less clutter, less stuff, fewer distractions. Imagine your life with less -- less stress, less debt, less discontent. Now imagine your life with more -- more time, more contribution, more elation ... What you're imagining is a meaningful life. Not a perfect life, not even an easy life, but a simple one." This book was inspiring to read and even kicked me into serious decluttering mode. (I've already taken numerous bags of things to goodwill.) My complaint is with the writing; Joshua can be a bit florid, and the structure of the book was also frustrating. It's set up as a collection of essays, but Ryan was allowed footnotes; his comments are in the back of the book, which required a second bookmark. While Ryan had a few good points, such as his diary about his 21-day project, a lot of his interjections were unnecessary and I got annoyed flipping back and forth. However, I appreciated the thoughtfulness of the book and because it was so inspiring, I'm taking my 3.5 rating and rounding up to 4. *This is just anecdotal evidence, but I have heard similar stories from friends about how the death of a parent or grandparent has jolted them into decluttering their own lives, because they had to sort through all of their relative's stuff. All of those "treasures" can end up being a burden for those left behind.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    Minimalist Joshua Fields Millburn has simplified everything in his life except his writing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    S

    Getting rid of excess stuff can be liberating. The author, however, wears his DIY Ethos badge far too proudly: even end-notes posturing as DFW-esque include pseudo-apologies for the bad writing. Youthful arrogance is a Darwinian survival mechanism. Here it manifests in self-indulgent prose starring the author's hubris, "value-added" Marxism, and Facebook Buddhism. The author and his buddies have reinvented the wheel, but are so pumped by the big numbers on their website that they can't hear Getting rid of excess stuff can be liberating. The author, however, wears his DIY Ethos badge far too proudly: even end-notes posturing as DFW-esque include pseudo-apologies for the bad writing. Youthful arrogance is a Darwinian survival mechanism. Here it manifests in self-indulgent prose starring the author's hubris, "value-added" Marxism, and Facebook Buddhism. The author and his buddies have reinvented the wheel, but are so pumped by the big numbers on their website that they can't hear their own vapid, vacuous and invariably monotonous voices repeating revelations which are neither new nor interesting. This book is a perfect example of what happens when anyone can publish anything.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John Cooper

    It's hard to dislike these guys (author Millburn and his colleague Ryan Nicodemus) even given the big business they've created, spreading the gospel of minimalist living by writing about how humbly wonderful they are. Their site "The Minimalists" (http://www.theminimalists.com) really is inspiring and provided me with a single valuable insight: that simply by significantly reducing the number of things I own, I can make myself feel a great deal better about myself. This is so contrary to the way It's hard to dislike these guys (author Millburn and his colleague Ryan Nicodemus) even given the big business they've created, spreading the gospel of minimalist living by writing about how humbly wonderful they are. Their site "The Minimalists" (http://www.theminimalists.com) really is inspiring and provided me with a single valuable insight: that simply by significantly reducing the number of things I own, I can make myself feel a great deal better about myself. This is so contrary to the way I had been thinking that it struck me with force. In the few weeks since, I've disposed of several boxes of books, hundreds of CDs, an unused guitar, and quite a bit of packed-away clutter whose utility was merely conjectural. My goal is to own only what I can comfortably fit into a 1200-square-foot house or apartment, with as little as possible packed away. I think that's achievable within a year. My wife and I have already found that giving things away becomes addictive. But back to the book: Whereas I'd naively expected a mix of about 30% memoir, 40% theory and 30% practical advice, I got 85% memoir, 15% theory and no practical advice. And the memoir quickly becomes too much in more than just length. Many reviewers have commented about how much Millburn emphasizes his pre-enlightment career success: the rise to Director level while still in his 20s, the six-figure salary, the yuppie bling. As with the preacher who sheds public tears about the 1,000 women he slept with before he found Jesus, there's a jarring sense of the "humble brag" here. Other passages tell us about what a great writer he is (he isn't), how famous he is (a pretty woman shyly approaches his table in a restaurant), and how sensitive he is (a chapter entirely about a lost girlfriend). None of this explains the how and why of ridding unnecessary possessions from one's life. The author is generous in his acknowledgment of other minimalists, including Joshua Becker of becomingminimalist.com, Courtney Carver of bemorewithless.com, and Leo Babauta of zenhabits.net. All of these sites, together with theminimalists.com, are worth a read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Update #1: 20 pages in and I'm put off by what a jerk Joshua/"Millie" is as a narrator. Really negative and scornful towards people. We haven't even started on the minimalism and he's already a self-righteous prick. Bleh. Also, flipping back constantly to the end of the book to read his co-writer's (mostly irrelevant) comments is ridiculous. Footnotes would have been so much more convenient than endnotes. Update #2:DNF at 40%: gave up on page 80 when it became a preachy, shitty dialogue-only rant Update #1: 20 pages in and I'm put off by what a jerk Joshua/"Millie" is as a narrator. Really negative and scornful towards people. We haven't even started on the minimalism and he's already a self-righteous prick. Bleh. Also, flipping back constantly to the end of the book to read his co-writer's (mostly irrelevant) comments is ridiculous. Footnotes would have been so much more convenient than endnotes. Update #2:DNF at 40%: gave up on page 80 when it became a preachy, shitty dialogue-only rant about his ex girlfriend. This was after the chapter that was just a transcript of a TV interview and verbatim text from the website of other minimalists. And after the chapter about what a great writer he is. The writing in this is awful, it's all long, manufactured conversations as exposition, and tons of padding. There's barely any minimalist theory or practical advice here, just a long memoir about rich white dudes who -- I wish I was joking -- spend a page gushing about how life changing FIGHT CLUB was for them. Thought I could stick this little book out to the finish, but life is too short.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Only a really good or a really bad book will prompt me to take the time to write a review. Unfortunately, this falls into the latter category. I learned from the book and read it as such: Did it add value to my life? Nope. That's why I decided to be minimal and stop halfway through. I get their point. Wealthy white guys leach onto a not-unique idea, find enlightenment in ditching possessions, and preach to the masses who beg to be saved from their sadness. The End. Additionally, I found the Only a really good or a really bad book will prompt me to take the time to write a review. Unfortunately, this falls into the latter category. I learned from the book and read it as such: Did it add value to my life? Nope. That's why I decided to be minimal and stop halfway through. I get their point. Wealthy white guys leach onto a not-unique idea, find enlightenment in ditching possessions, and preach to the masses who beg to be saved from their sadness. The End. Additionally, I found the writing cliched and irritating. Yes, I am a writer by education and career. The author is an aspiring writer, and I commend him highly for pursuing his dream. That said, upon being asked, "Are you any good?" he opines: ["Yes," I hear myself acknowledge for the first time aloud. "Without question," I say, knowing that during the past six months I've improved exponentially, writing daily, becoming obsessed with the craft. I've taken something I was good at and started working my way toward greatness.] Sigh... Being verbose and using your Thesaurus app (yes, he has one on his phone) does not make you a great writer. I don't put on a white coat and call myself a pharmacist, even if I really WANT to be one. I found myself laughing at the timeliness of my reading this, amidst Donald Trump's presidential candidate. To quote Trump: "I know words. I have the best words." Your life is short. Be minimal -- don't read this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi

    I really wanted to like this book. It's about a topic that interests me greatly and people are always saying great things about their blog. but... There wasn't really anything original or profound. It was somewhat interesting to see simple living repackaged for a new generation, but it was a long way to go for that. They seemed rather egotistical and self-centered. I found myself wondering why I would listen to any advise they gave... The writing just wasn't that good. The author tells us what a I really wanted to like this book. It's about a topic that interests me greatly and people are always saying great things about their blog. but... There wasn't really anything original or profound. It was somewhat interesting to see simple living repackaged for a new generation, but it was a long way to go for that. They seemed rather egotistical and self-centered. I found myself wondering why I would listen to any advise they gave... The writing just wasn't that good. The author tells us what a good writer he is several times, but I found it rather stilted and some sections felt like they were lifted directly from the blog. He recreates several conversations and I was laughing thinking that if he really talks like that then it's no wonder he finds it better to meet people online. I'm giving it 2 stars because I suspect that others will read it and find it life-changing and won't be bothered by the issues listed above. Just not me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah

    YAWN! This book was so incredibly boring that I skipped most of it. I just kept flipping ahead hoping for a glimmer of excitement, or at least some advice on becoming a minimalist. Nope. The author is completely self-absorbed and his over-the-top verbiage is anything but minimal and simplistic. I felt like he was trying so hard to impress by using various "interesting" words that a lot of the point of the book was lost. His ongoing, flowery paragraphs just dragged and d r a g g e d.... I know YAWN! This book was so incredibly boring that I skipped most of it. I just kept flipping ahead hoping for a glimmer of excitement, or at least some advice on becoming a minimalist. Nope. The author is completely self-absorbed and his over-the-top verbiage is anything but minimal and simplistic. I felt like he was trying so hard to impress by using various "interesting" words that a lot of the point of the book was lost. His ongoing, flowery paragraphs just dragged and d r a g g e d.... I know one way I can come closer to becoming a minimalist....toss out this book!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Frances

    This is my second book by the minimalists and I'm torn. On the one hand I love the philosophy, their ted talk was great and a lot of what they say makes sense. On the other the writing style is pretentious as. At one point Joshua said 'the clock dripping minutes onto the nightstand' or words to that effect. It's as though he went to one writing workshop, someone introduced him to metaphors and he declared they would be his 'mission'. I understand setting the scene and that it's his memoir but This is my second book by the minimalists and I'm torn. On the one hand I love the philosophy, their ted talk was great and a lot of what they say makes sense. On the other the writing style is pretentious as. At one point Joshua said 'the clock dripping minutes onto the nightstand' or words to that effect. It's as though he went to one writing workshop, someone introduced him to metaphors and he declared they would be his 'mission'. I understand setting the scene and that it's his memoir but the parts where he talked openly about his journey were great, the parts where the sky was 'denim' (he really loves talking about the sky) less so. It's only 216 pages and I swear the sky appears every three pages if not more. All in all, if you like the idea and you want to know more about their journey to minimalism I would recommend their blog or ted talk, it's on youtube. If you like repetition, metaphors about the sky, people who wish they had been beat poets and the odd glimpse into their minimalism journey, try the books.

  12. 4 out of 5

    J.K. Riki

    If you're going to read this book, don't read reviews of it first. Let me start there. There were two distinct sides to this book. One half (though the two were mixed together) was filled with enlightening and fascinating information on minimalism, and the general idea that all the material "stuff" in life is empty. This truth is something most people come to eventually, but it's always great to be reminded, especially as we pursue the "stuff" constantly. The other side, though, was an If you're going to read this book, don't read reviews of it first. Let me start there. There were two distinct sides to this book. One half (though the two were mixed together) was filled with enlightening and fascinating information on minimalism, and the general idea that all the material "stuff" in life is empty. This truth is something most people come to eventually, but it's always great to be reminded, especially as we pursue the "stuff" constantly. The other side, though, was an occasionally interesting memoir that simply went on too long. The author says initially the book was over 1000 pages. Though it's down to 200 some, that's still too long. Everything in the book could have been said in far fewer, more selective words. If you took stock of the type of words in this book, I'd wager a huge percentage would be frilly adverbs. Waxing poetic is fun from time to time, but not for 200 pages butted up next to useful information. My English-major friend Adam would probably lose his mind trying to read this book, screaming out loud from time to time as he had to cope with yet another overwrought description. I also made the mistake of reading a few reviews here on Goodreads halfway through the book. They made me all to aware of what was happening and that frustrated feeling I couldn't put my finger on. After the issues of the writing were pointed out to me, I couldn't un-see them. They just kept racking up like a bee buzzing in my ear. I'm not sorry I read the book, but I'm also content with my decision to essentially skim the final three chapters. It was just too long and too wordy. Especially for a book on minimalism! :)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    Time for the Honesty Corner. I think the messages of minimalism, conscious spending and deliberate choices are extremely important, but unfortunately they're buried in some really tragic writing within these pages. Like, comically bad. How was this published?? Oh right, Millburn started his own independent publishing company. Clearly they are short staffed on editors, or his friends have been too nice to tell him the hard truth about his writing. It really would have benefitted from a second set Time for the Honesty Corner. I think the messages of minimalism, conscious spending and deliberate choices are extremely important, but unfortunately they're buried in some really tragic writing within these pages. Like, comically bad. How was this published?? Oh right, Millburn started his own independent publishing company. Clearly they are short staffed on editors, or his friends have been too nice to tell him the hard truth about his writing. It really would have benefitted from a second set of eyes. I would feel worse trashing the writing quality if Millburn didn't come off so arrogant and absolutely reeking of hubris. I didn't do more than glance at the best friend's endnotes peppered through the book because they were completely unnecessary and it was a pain to go back and forth every other sentence. There is so much purple prose in this book. Good writers don't need to repeatedly mention how good they are: it shows itself. The writing here is stuffy and even though there was a disclaimer about having to recreate scenes from memory, it reads phony. Millburn goes on and on about how writing is his passion and how much time he spends practicing every day, but I don't think he's getting anywhere. As another reviewer has mentioned, his conviction in his own talent has made me think more highly of my own (time to get cracking on that first novel!). I truly enjoy The Minimalists' blog and podcast but the quality of writing and bloated ego in this 'memoir' was cringeworthy and overshadowed the essential message of the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    Great message, but really quite trying to read. The author has an inspirational story, yet he couches it in such unnecessarily obscure language - an awful combination of old-fashioned terms and informal contractions. The notes add nothing, and might have been presented differently (ie not as endnotes necessitating flicking back and forth) to avoid the interruptions, if not edited altogether. That said, I found Nicodemus' unpacking journal one of the most readable passages. As I progressed Great message, but really quite trying to read. The author has an inspirational story, yet he couches it in such unnecessarily obscure language - an awful combination of old-fashioned terms and informal contractions. The notes add nothing, and might have been presented differently (ie not as endnotes necessitating flicking back and forth) to avoid the interruptions, if not edited altogether. That said, I found Nicodemus' unpacking journal one of the most readable passages. As I progressed through the book, I became increasingly horrified at the writing and even embarrassed to have recommended it to a friend, with whom I am planning to go see the pair speak in October this year. If anything, Millburn's conviction in his own writing talent has made me think better of my own. Still, criticisms of the writing aside, it's encouraging to see a growing movement against needless consumption.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Deb Henry

    While I appreciate minimalism and how it can enhance your life, this novel just rehashed the overdrawn tidbits I had heard in interviews and when I saw the friends speak in person. At times it was arrogant, snobby and overwrought, but the worst feature was the constant belittling and sexism towards the females they encountered. Millburn has a lot more soul searching to do in order to overcome his ego. Ended up a forced-read for me on a subject I very much subscribe to already. Disappointed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    This gets two stars just because some of the ideas of minimalism are very interesting to me. Unfortunately the writing got in the way of anything good about this book. The author came across as pretentious and out of touch. I wish the author had asked himself if every sentence he wrote added value to the book. A word of advice to the author, editors are good you should get one!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Overall, I found this book very annoying. In brief, we place too much value on the pursuit of material goods and identify with our jobs as opposed to our passions. But to get there you need to slug through a overwritten memoir by two self-important hipsters. Curiosity kept me going on this one and fortunately it was a quick read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Britt

    Another short, yet pretty great book. The only thing I had a problem with is how descriptive he'd get about things that added nothing to the story. It felt like he had a goal of so many words and had to put in extra stuff to meet those goals. It has a really great message to it, though. So I still think it's well worth the read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I'm a sucker for self-help style books, and although Everything That Remains is described as a 'memoir', I felt that it was a lot more geared towards advice and showcasing minimalism as a life choice. Plus, who can really write a memoir at the age of 31/32? So of course I found this book incredibly interesting and enjoyable to read. This book is primarily written by Joshua Fields Millburn, one half of The Minimalists, but it includes end notes written by his blogging partner and best friend Ryan I'm a sucker for self-help style books, and although Everything That Remains is described as a 'memoir', I felt that it was a lot more geared towards advice and showcasing minimalism as a life choice. Plus, who can really write a memoir at the age of 31/32? So of course I found this book incredibly interesting and enjoyable to read. This book is primarily written by Joshua Fields Millburn, one half of The Minimalists, but it includes end notes written by his blogging partner and best friend Ryan Nicodemus, which I enjoyed a lot. They were a welcome exit from Millburn's prose, and also included some really interesting sections like the depiction of his "packing party" (the first time he experienced minimalism). It does take a bit of flipping back and forth if you want to read them in tandem with when they appear in the text (and let's be honest, it would be a bit weird if you didn't), but I just employed the whole two bookmarks approach and it worked out pretty well for me! There were times when I felt the prose came across as a little self-important and preachy, but then again this is a book about a lifestyle and a way of living that the author(s) feel incredibly passionate about - so of course they are going to tout it with gusto! I was able to look past this though, and read it to my own personal advantage - I love the idea of minimalism, and have already started to incorporate it on the most basic level (the idea of getting rid of unnecessary possessions). I have a long way to go before I can say I am truly embracing minimalism, and I doubt I will go to some of the lengths that The Minimalists have, but it's definitely going to be a work in progress. If you are interested in minimalism at all, I would recommend reading this book even if you don't take it completely seriously. I had the chance to see The Minimalists speak earlier in the week before completing this book, where they were very charismatic and interesting, and even received a hug from both of them and had them sign my copy! Lovely guys, and a lovely message. I'm game.

  20. 5 out of 5

    H.D. Knightley

    Loved this. My experiences have been so similar, losing my mother, cleaning out her house, having epiphanies and wanting to become a better...anything. This book is probably very very helpful if you'd like to be inspired to pare down and simplify, I'm more of an armchair minimalist. I love to read about it. I admire people who do. I have theories about the best way to accomplish it and will happily share my discoveries. But actually minimalizing? I don't really have the time, I'm kind of busy Loved this. My experiences have been so similar, losing my mother, cleaning out her house, having epiphanies and wanting to become a better...anything. This book is probably very very helpful if you'd like to be inspired to pare down and simplify, I'm more of an armchair minimalist. I love to read about it. I admire people who do. I have theories about the best way to accomplish it and will happily share my discoveries. But actually minimalizing? I don't really have the time, I'm kind of busy stuffing another towel into the closet. But J. Milburn's writing is so beautiful that I want to read more of his books. I used a highlighter. It was that good. I read this book because I was writing a novel, Violet's MountainViolet's Mountain, about a young woman who is a hoarder. Her pile has reached monumental mountainous proportions, and out of a sense of duty and love and grief she is stuck living there, at the top of the hoard. I asked Joshua Fields Millburn to recommend one of his books for my protagonist after she comes down from her mountain. If she comes down from her mountain, and he kindly recommended this book, Everything that Remains. I read it and it was perfect. It rests on her coffee table, a gift from the man who loves her.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The only reason I'm not giving this book one star is that I like the message - let's stop selling our time just to buy more stuff and, ostensibly, status. However, I worry that people who read this book might think you become (or have to start as) an obnoxious dude-bro to be a minimalist. JFM goes to a lot of trouble to tout the "conversational" feel of the book but every part of it feels rehearsed, overworked. There's one particularly annoying chapter that feels like an awkward mix of The only reason I'm not giving this book one star is that I like the message - let's stop selling our time just to buy more stuff and, ostensibly, status. However, I worry that people who read this book might think you become (or have to start as) an obnoxious dude-bro to be a minimalist. JFM goes to a lot of trouble to tout the "conversational" feel of the book but every part of it feels rehearsed, overworked. There's one particularly annoying chapter that feels like an awkward mix of evangelism and Socratic method, in which JFM convinces his sidekick, Ryan, to embrace minimalism, too. Long paragraphs from JFM interspersed with affirmations (sometimes disguised as questions) from Ryan. It was so irritating that I considered returning the book to the library before finishing it but I continued and got to read the chapter in which they move to Montana together and JFM spends the entire chapter describing the populace amongst which he's chosen to live with barely concealed contempt. Because of my interest in the topic, I didn't realize how much I disliked this book until I'd nearly finished. So, I stuck it out.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Bunting

    DNF at page 117 I actually enjoy The Minimalists and I consume a lot of their media (primarily their podcast). I have my tickets ready to go for Minimalism. However, I really do feel like I am burnt out on the Minimalists. A lot of this memoir is regurgitation from their other media and there's nothing new here. It's not adding value to my life to read this so I'll just stop here. I also find it deeply ironic that one of the reasons I'm DNF'ing is because reading a physical copy of book is really DNF at page 117 I actually enjoy The Minimalists and I consume a lot of their media (primarily their podcast). I have my tickets ready to go for Minimalism. However, I really do feel like I am burnt out on the Minimalists. A lot of this memoir is regurgitation from their other media and there's nothing new here. It's not adding value to my life to read this so I'll just stop here. I also find it deeply ironic that one of the reasons I'm DNF'ing is because reading a physical copy of book is really annoying.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Izette

    A book like this I've realised will only have impact, if your are going through a process of re-evaluating your life or seeking a life that has more meaning. Being in a process like that due to numerous major events in a fairly short time frame has lead to being in a space where it's only natural to want to clear out all the gunk (both physical and psychological) to bring clarity to what is truly important and what needs to be shed along the way. Not everyone is fortunate to have a clear path on A book like this I've realised will only have impact, if your are going through a process of re-evaluating your life or seeking a life that has more meaning. Being in a process like that due to numerous major events in a fairly short time frame has lead to being in a space where it's only natural to want to clear out all the gunk (both physical and psychological) to bring clarity to what is truly important and what needs to be shed along the way. Not everyone is fortunate to have a clear path on what they want to do "when they grow up" so it's no wonder one asks oneself after about 20 years of working: Am I happy with all of my choices? I watched the documentary with my husband before I read this book. It was thought provoking and lead to a slow process which is still ongoing, of getting rid of the stuff in the house that no longer has meaning. Suddenly the home that was too small, seems to be coping and be enough for now. Giving away is also rewarding. Suddenly buying something because I want to have it now, is a more considered decision. To me, this book felt like an honest conversation from one person who has gone through a transformation, to another who sees the value thereof and seeks the same. No it did not blow my mind, but it was not my expectation. I wanted to hear the author's story, how getting rid of the clutter has enable him to enjoy life more and go do the things he never thought would be possible. Individual growth and development is such a personal thing and nobody can discount what another has gone through. If you're not ready to really listen to this message, then don't.

  24. 5 out of 5

    RC1140

    I have read a book similiar to this before where the authors went from blog -> published. From that point on we are supposed to just accept what they present as acceptable. Sadly that does not ring true for this book (or possibly just the american audience and roots that it originates from). While there are elements of truth in the book , I honestly zoned out so often its hard to remember exactly where the great nuggets of information were. I do often think that people (super generalized) tend I have read a book similiar to this before where the authors went from blog -> published. From that point on we are supposed to just accept what they present as acceptable. Sadly that does not ring true for this book (or possibly just the american audience and roots that it originates from). While there are elements of truth in the book , I honestly zoned out so often its hard to remember exactly where the great nuggets of information were. I do often think that people (super generalized) tend to collect things over time, but this isnt really a bad thing in my opinion. Thinking about a number of things in my life, I tend to only buy things after it becomes apparent that not having it is affecting me, either by not letting me get things done efficiently or not being able to do something period. What this has resulted in, is that even in the recent move I did , while there was a bunch of junk most of it I let go easily , everything else had been used once or many times in the past 3 months. I also have no idea what the point of the person that kept injecting side comments into the book was there for aside from possibly attaching their name to to the book. Every comment felt forced and quite distracting. Some useful info hidden somewhere in here, where exactly I cant say, you will probably need to do a deep introspection of your life and decide where you are headed. There is much that can be said about personal life styles and religion in regards to the book, but it seems like a case of the wrong audience to direct these thoughts at.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    In 2017, I watched the Minimalists' documentary on Netflix, and from there was led to their podcast and website. I love these guys, and their work has definitely inspired a lot of positive change in my life (i.e. adding value lol). I also happen to identify a lot with JFM, especially his feeling of discontent with the status quo and his desire to pursue a career as a writer. That being said, this book was only okay for me. There are a lot of great one-liners, some pieces of advice, a few In 2017, I watched the Minimalists' documentary on Netflix, and from there was led to their podcast and website. I love these guys, and their work has definitely inspired a lot of positive change in my life (i.e. adding value lol). I also happen to identify a lot with JFM, especially his feeling of discontent with the status quo and his desire to pursue a career as a writer. That being said, this book was only okay for me. There are a lot of great one-liners, some pieces of advice, a few compelling paragraphs. Essentially if you have already listened to them or perused their website, nothing in this book will really be new. What is new is that this book crystallized what irked me about their podcast that I could never really put my finger on. JFM is an arrogant, privileged dude. Or at least that is how he comes across in this book, and it's made me realize that I have thought so many times while listening to the Minimalists as well. The later chapters on moving to Montana really sealed the deal for me: his horrendously condescending descriptions of people he'd barely interacted with, his casual dismissal of other human beings - it was honestly disgusting. I'd thought before that the Minimalists' privilege was limited to them being unwilling to acknowledge that they began their journeys in a better spot than most (though you would never think so to hear them tell it), but this made me question that maybe the problem is a little more endemic. I sincerely hope this is not the case. Overall, I would not recommend this book to someone first getting into minimalism, I do not think it is a very good representation of all the great stuff the Minimalists have to offer. Try the podcast instead.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Honestly, I wanted to love this book as much as I love minimalism and their message, but Millburn's writing style was all over the place, causing me to really dislike the book. First, let me say that there are several excellent snippets in here. That being said, the author would go from recalling a memory to giving advice to discussing his hobbies to ranting about socioeconomic status all within a few paragraphs. Chapters would jump from creating a website to limiting consumption to ex Honestly, I wanted to love this book as much as I love minimalism and their message, but Millburn's writing style was all over the place, causing me to really dislike the book. First, let me say that there are several excellent snippets in here. That being said, the author would go from recalling a memory to giving advice to discussing his hobbies to ranting about socioeconomic status all within a few paragraphs. Chapters would jump from creating a website to limiting consumption to ex girlfriends. Nothing really connected for me. It was all scattered. Yes, I know this style was intentional, but it was far too distracting from my reading that it took away from their underlying message. Also, the endnotes were annoying and felt like a pointless way to tack on Ryan's name as an author. The endnotes were almost a total waste of time, continually having to flip back for an unnecessary quip. Then you have the exceptions of endnotes 43 and 67, which I would have loved as separate, detailed chapters in and of themselves. Overall, this book had so much potential but a clear and organized style was deeply lacking, failing to drive his story home for me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Mediocre writer pens his self-publishing memoir. This book could have been 150 pages shorter. There were painful run-on sentences (I believe he was proud of his 3-pager; he brags about it later in the book), cheesy extended metaphors, and entire chapters dripping with a lack of self-awareness. I just about died inside when he projected his thoughts onto a POC in the first few pages. I love the minimalists podcast, but this book was awful. The writer comes across as an entitled blow-hard who Mediocre writer pens his self-publishing memoir. This book could have been 150 pages shorter. There were painful run-on sentences (I believe he was proud of his 3-pager; he brags about it later in the book), cheesy extended metaphors, and entire chapters dripping with a lack of self-awareness. I just about died inside when he projected his thoughts onto a POC in the first few pages. I love the minimalists podcast, but this book was awful. The writer comes across as an entitled blow-hard who doesn't realize why nobody would publish him. It's obvious to people who enjoy reading exactly why he's been passed over so many times by the publishing world; his writing lacks a point. If he eventually makes a point it's after he's spent pages navel-gazing and sharing his not-so-profound epiphanies and using every obscure word he can think of. I hate to say this about guys who I've enjoyed so much via podcast, but this book needed an editor with a chainsaw who could reign in all the excess drivel.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jacques Bezuidenhout

    This was a fairly short listen. Which probably helped it a bit. There are 3 perspectives I get from this book. 1. A fad similar to barefoot running, where it is sold as the most natural thing, and that you are wrong in not doing it. 2. Great ideas about how to scale down on over indulgence, spending money you don't have, and getting rid of clutter. Focusing on what is important. 3. The information portrayed in such a way that it feels like you should quit your job and dump your wife to be happy. There This was a fairly short listen. Which probably helped it a bit. There are 3 perspectives I get from this book. 1. A fad similar to barefoot running, where it is sold as the most natural thing, and that you are wrong in not doing it. 2. Great ideas about how to scale down on over indulgence, spending money you don't have, and getting rid of clutter. Focusing on what is important. 3. The information portrayed in such a way that it feels like you should quit your job and dump your wife to be happy. There are some valuable titbits of information, valuable to anyone, whether strictly following a minimalist lifestyle or not. The last part of the book was an absolute schlep. The tours/travels had zero relevant information. I get that it is a memoir, and they are telling their story, but there was nothing in there that I cared for. The beginning of the book had much more valuable snippets. Then in the audio version. The interjection of Ryan was done in such a way that I cringed every time his voice came up.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    If I hadn't received this book for free I probably wouldn't have purchased it, not because the book isn't good but because I'm not usually one for memoirs. "The Minimalists" - Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus - offered their bestselling book for free and, being interested in their other publications, I picked it up to read. It's a short read giving you insight into how money does not guarantee happiness even if you're convinced it will. If you've read or listened to anything by "The If I hadn't received this book for free I probably wouldn't have purchased it, not because the book isn't good but because I'm not usually one for memoirs. "The Minimalists" - Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus - offered their bestselling book for free and, being interested in their other publications, I picked it up to read. It's a short read giving you insight into how money does not guarantee happiness even if you're convinced it will. If you've read or listened to anything by "The Minimalists" previously you'll notice a lot of what they say is repeated over and over and over... I'd recommend watching Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things instead.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Angela Howe-stemrich

    Very interesting subject matter for me, but the author has an inconsistent writing style and becomes way too "preachy" at times. Also, he doesn't seem to qualify himself before going into his sermons. It reads like a mediocre personal journal at times. The footnotes and a couple of passages are pretty funny, though.

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